September 23, 2005

Spirits in the Material World

I don't know what to make of this report, but it's interesting.

God is definitely doing something through the recent hurricanes. I'm sure we'll all know in time.

September 14, 2005

Serious affronts to God

Romans 13:12-13:
Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Often I am just like the Pharisee who prayed and said, "God, I'm glad I'm not like these terrible sinners—I praise you that I'm not like this tax collector ... or this prostitute ... or this homosexual ... or this lazy neighbor ... or this woman who had an abortion." Many of us see ourselves in terms of how much better we are than those around us who participate in obvious sin.

But the weight of various sins is not something we should determine based on cultural and societal standards; we should see sin through God's eyes and be appalled by the things that are an affront to him.

In Romans 13:12-13, Paul tells us some of the things that are an affront to God. We would agree with these things: orgies and drunkenness (terrible things), sexual immorality and debauchery (just awful, I'm glad I don't do those things), dissension and jealousy.... Hey wait, why are those included in the list?

Webster's Dictionary defines dissension as "discord." Are we sowing discord among the brethren? Do we like to discuss the problems we see in our local churches? Do we talk about the ways other people are letting us down? Do we enjoy poiting out the failures of our government? This sort of activity is placed at the same level of sinfulness as participation in orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, and debauchery. As is jealousy, which is another common pitful for me personally and for many of us.

How do we overcome these things if they are every bit as terrible in God's eyes as the other things in this list in Romans 13?

Romans 13:14—Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

It's not easy, but we have to do it. God grant us the grace to live as we should and to see ourselves as we are, not in terms of how we are better than others. And God grant us mercy when we fail to live up to this standard.

Excuses, excuses (excuses)

Why do we blame others when we fall short of the glory of God? Do we think that everyone thinks we're perfect and we may lower their expectations of us?

For my part, everyone knows I'm a bonehead. And everyone knows I'm a sinner. And yet I continually try to shift the blame when my obvious failures rise to the surface and become noticeable.

Genesis 2:12–13 reads: "The man said, 'The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

It goes all the way back to the beginning. Adam was the expert blameshifter—he blamed Eve and, as he was talking, he saw the opportunity to shift blame again so he jumped on it immediately and proceeded to blame God. "The woman did it, God. Oh and, by the way, you're the One who gave the woman to me, so it's really your fault."

Then Eve followed her husbands sinful lead and said, "The devil made me do it."

Which of these blame-shifting techniques worked best? Well—they both ended up wandering the world outside the garden. They both received the penalty of death. So obviously none of the techniques worked. Blaming others, blaming God, and blaming Satan. They all were inexcusable.

God calls us to repent. Repentance demands knowledge of our sin. We cannot repent when we don't know that we're doing anything wrong. I believe blame shifting is motivated not by our desire to hide our sins from others—they already know we're sinful. I think blame shifting is motivated by our desire to hide our sins from ourselves. To ignore our sins so we don't have to repent and turn away from our sinful behavior.

Praise God that he still loves us in spite of our sinful ways and our rebellion against him.

September 13, 2005

Calvinistic Synergism

No—it's not an oxymoron. Let me explain.

Romans 6:23

Synergism is the belief that God and man cooperate in the process of salvation. Man contributes his part (faith) and God contributes his (grace). This view of salvation has been condemned as heresy by Church councils dating back to the time of Augustine and Pelagius.

The opposing view, typically called Calvinism, holds to a monergistic salvation, in which God alone performs the actions necessary for the salvation of man. God reveals himself to the sinner, calls the sinner to himself, gives the sinner (dead in trespasses and sins) a new heart that is inclined toward God, grants the sinner faith unto repentance, and seals the new believer in eternal relationship with himself. The latter view is the view I espouse.

However, I was struck with a peculiar notion while reading Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This verse shows that man and God both contributed something to the situation. Man sinned, thereby requiring his death to pay the penalty for sin. God gave man the gift of life—something man had already thrown away in the Garden of Eden.

I know this was a weird post, but then again, that's what makes the internet interesting. It lets us know we're not alone in our weirdness.

September 06, 2005

The Least of My Brethren

The human suffering as a result of Hurricane Katrina boggles the mind. Large areas have suffered entire devastation and hundreds are dead or stranded without a source of food or water. Time is running out.

In the midst of this natural (divine) disaster, the American people are reaching out to help their neighbors. We have seen this happen time and again when times are hard. It's good to know that we still have the capacity to love and care for one another. My Church is collecting donations for the victims of the hurricane. The donations are going to Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse, which is organizing volunteers to clear debris and repair homes of the poorest people hit by the devastation. As they make the repairs and clean up, they work through local churches to see that spiritual needs are being met as well as physical needs. When the work is done they present each family with a bible. An outstanding effort, to be sure.

But Christians are not the only ones reaching out to the victims of Katrina. Satan's crew is in full charity mode, too. Planned Parenthood has offered free abortions and free contraception to those impacted by Hurricane Katrina's wrath. It must gall them to know that people running for their lives are not likely to remember that they have to protect their convenience from the intrusion of a child. Perhaps they could use the slogan: "Hundreds of people have died from Katrina, why not add your child to the list?" What a shame.